Showing posts from May, 2017

Non-fiction Review: Walking to Listen, by Andrew Forsthoefel

Title: Walking to Listen: 4,000 Miles Across America, One Story at a Time Author: Andrew Forsthoefel Publisher: Bloomsbury, 2017. 371 pages Source: Library Publisher's Summary: Life is fast, and I've found it's easy to confuse the miraculous for the mundane, so I'm slowing down, way down, in order to give my full presence to the extraordinary that infuses each moment and resides in every one of us. At 23, Andrew Forsthoefel headed out the back door of his home in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, with a backpack, an audio recorder, his copies of Whitman and Rilke, and a sign that read -Walking to Listen.- He had just graduated from Middlebury College and was ready to begin his adult life, but he didn't know how. So he decided to take a cross-country quest for guidance, one where everyone he met would be his guide. In the year that followed, he faced an Appalachian winter and a Mojave summer. He met beasts inside: fear, loneliness, doubt. But he also encountered

#Fin50: That Old Wive's Tale

  Old Wives’ Tales is the prompt for the month’s Fiction in Fifty words #Fi50, the brainchild of the BookShelf Gargoyle . As a hint to fill out the story a little, I'll tell you that once, long ago, I was a Chaucer scholar. The Old Wives’ Tale There’s time before the ride ends for you to hear our wisdom. You young wives want to live as long as us, and be as happy? Then you must use your husband right. What’s that? You’re no slave to any man? Tell her, Mildred. How long since your husband disappeared? ©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2017 As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated!

Librarians Vs. Robots: Flash Fiction Friday

Another wonderful random-draw prompt from Chuck Wendig , this time two lists of character-things. Draw one from each, and set them against each other. To my delight, my first roll got me the utter appropriate Librarians vs. Robots. In 999 words, then, my take on it. You know who's gonna win :) Librarians vs. Robots Abigail let her glasses slide down her nose so she could look over them at the patron who had just entered the library. Hers was a quiet and well-run library, and she did not allow troublemakers. This one looked like a troublemaker. The patron approached the desk with the slightly awkward gait that gave away even the best robots. It was unaffected by the over-the-glasses gaze of the librarian, and made its request in a surprisingly human voice. “Might I get a library card?” Very polite. Abigail wasn’t fooled. Nor was she willing to discriminate against any potential borrower of books. She might see trouble coming, but even an obvious troublemaker could get a library car

Audio-Book Review: One Dead, Two to Go

  I'll start with an apology, because I was sent this book for review last summer, and I listened to it, and enjoyed it, and somehow the review never got written. I only discovered this when I saw the second book was out, and went to look at my review and see what I'd thought of this one. No dice. I must have gone on vacation. So here it is, better late than never.  Title: One Dead, Two to Go  (Eddie Shoes Mystery #1) Author: Elena Hartwell, narrated by Moira Driscoll Publisher: Audible, 2016. Paperback by Camel Press, 2016, 240 pages. Source: Review copy from publisher Publisher's Summary: Private Investigator Edwina “Eddie Shoes” Schultz’s most recent job has her parked outside a seedy Bellingham hotel, photographing her quarry as he kisses his mistress goodbye. This is the last anyone will see of the woman … alive. Her body is later found dumped in an abandoned building. Eddie’s client, Kendra Hallings, disappears soon after. Eddie hates to be stiffed for her

Audacity Jones, by Kirby Larson. Middle Grade review

  Title: Audacity Jones to the Rescue Author: Kirby Larson Publisher: Scholastic Press, 2016. 209 pages Source: Library Publisher's Summary: An irrepressible orphan named Audacity Jones is headed on an adventure of historic proportions! The first book in a brand-new series from beloved Newbery Honor author Kirby Larson! Audacity Jones is an eleven-year-old orphan who aches for adventure, a challenge to break up the monotony of her life at Miss Maisie's School for Wayward Girls. Life as a wayward girl isn't so bad; Audie has the best of friends, a clever cat companion, and plenty of books to read. Still, she longs for some excitement, like the characters in the novels she so loves encounter. So when the mysterious Commodore Crutchfield visits the school and whisks Audie off to Washington, DC, she knows she's in for the journey of a lifetime. But soon, it becomes clear that the Commodore has unsavory plans for Audie--plans that involve the president of the Uni

Friday Flash Fiction: The Crispins

After a long absence while he was busy doing author things, Chuck Wendig was back this week with a new flash fiction challenge. I used the random number generator to pick my genres, and ended up with Near-Future Sci-Fi and Biopunk. Had to look up the latter, but in the end they kind of ended up being the same thing. I stuck with it, though, because I'd just finished reading an article about CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing and it seemed kind of obvious. Chuck gave us 1500 words, and I ran longer than usual at 1380. The Crispins We Crispins were the result of the hubris of the 2030s, when the genetic scientists were sure they had all the glitches worked out of the use of the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing protocols. The big challenge had been solving the problem of not just removing bad DNA, but replacing it with what should be there. They finally got that worked out in 2029. That was when someone got the bright idea of creating enhanced humans. The result was us. They gave us all the name “Crisp

Non-fiction review: The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap

  Title: The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap   Author: Wendy Welch Publisher: St. Martin's Press, 2012. 291 pages Source: Purchased Publisher's Summary: A book about losing your place, finding your purpose, and immersing yourself in what holds community, and humanity, together—books Wendy Welch and her husband had always dreamed of owning a bookstore. When the opportunity to escape a toxic work environment and run to a struggling Virginia coal mining town presented itself, they took it. And took the plunge into starting their dream as well. They chose to ignore the “death of the book,” the closing of bookstores across the nation, and the difficult economic environment, and six years later they have carved a bookstore—and a life—out of an Appalachian mountain community. A story of beating bad odds with grace, ingenuity, good books, and single malt, this memoir chronicles two bibliophiles discovering unlikely ways in which daily living and literature intertwine. The

Great Escapes Tour: Dumpster Dying. Review and Interview!

We have a special treat today--not only my review of a really fun read, but an interview with a major character! Title: Dumpster Dying (Big Lake Mysteries #1) Author: Lesley A. Diehl Publisher: Creekside Publishing, 2016. 248 pages. Source: Electronic review copy as part of the Great Escapes free blog tour. Publisher's Blurb:  Emily Rhodes came to rural Florida for the cowboys, the cattle, and to do a little country two-step, not to fall head first onto a dead body in a dumpster. Ah, the golden years of retirement in the sunshine state. They're more like pot metal to Emily Rhodes, who discovers the body of the county's wealthiest rancher in the Big Lake Country Club dumpster. With her close friend accused of the murder, Emily sets aside her grief at her life partner's death to find the real killer. She underestimates the obstacles rural Florida can set up for a winter visitor and runs afoul of a local judge with his own version of justice, hires a lawyer who w

Flash Fiction Friday: The Silent Dragon

I used a random title generator this week to give me the title, and I knew it needed to go along with a couple of other stories I've written about the Dragon Emissary. If you wish, you can check out One Dragon at a Time and The Second Dragon before you read today's installment. It's just under 1000 words. The Silent Dragon (A Dragon Emissary story) Calla gazed at the parchment in her hand, her mind working overtime. She had fished the packet from a secret compartment in the back wall of her semi-secret workroom. Someone had wanted it to be found only by the right people. And no wonder. It contained a secret that changed a great deal, if not everything, about her job. Calla was the 23rd Dragon Emissary of the Kingdom of Battorn, and she had taken over the job rather abruptly when her father’s skills had proven unequal to the task. That was how most of the Emissaries got the job. None retired to warmer climes, and very few had lived to fully train their successors. Calla re

The Last Season, by Eric Blehm: Non-fiction review

Title: The Last Season Author: Eric Blehm Publisher: Harper Perennial, 2006. 335 pages. Source: Borrowed from a friend. Publisher's Summary:  
 My Review:   A third of the way through the book, I was wondering why I was reading it. This was partly the inevitable result of picking away at it in tiny bits when I wasn't very engaged, but it was also a result of the way the book is written. Let me hasten to add that, not long after that, I settled down to read for real and soon found myself caught up in the story. The main issue with the book is really the question of whether, aside from the mystery of his disappearance, Randy Morgenson was really a person in need of a biography. And the point of the book is really the disappearance and the search operation, with the rest of Randy's life feeling a bit as though it's there to make this into something more than an in-depth magazine article. But at some point, too, we realize that the construction of Randy's nature, thr


  A to Z Reflections Post: Late, as usual So I guess this was supposed to happen yesterday. To be honest, the listless A to Z was, in fact, listless, and I was busy, so I pretty much just put it all behind me and carried on. But it seems only fair to offer my reflections and opinions, if anyone is listening. Does that sound cynical? There may be a reason for that. You see, because of my time zone and my personal schedule (I could, of course, have posted at 3 the afternoon before and put my links up when the Brits did. But I don't want to), I ended up posting my link in the comments pretty much dead last every day. And that attracted I'm not sure if anyone visited here who wasn't responding to my visits, and frankly, I found people to visit by following comments on my friends' blogs. As a means of publicizing and promoting my blog, it was not, in fact, worth the touted "five minutes a day" (and yes, I resented the implication in the surv

Middle Grade Review: The Only Road, by Alexandra Diaz

  Title: The Only Road Author: Alexandra Diaz Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016. 308 pages Source: Library Publisher's Summary: Jaime is sitting on his bed drawing when he hears a scream. Instantly, he knows: Miguel, his cousin and best friend, is dead. Everyone in Jaime’s small town in Guatemala knows someone who has been killed by the Alphas, a powerful gang that’s known for violence and drug trafficking. Anyone who refuses to work for them is hurt or killed—like Miguel. With Miguel gone, Jaime fears that he is next. There’s only one choice: accompanied by his cousin Ángela, Jaime must flee his home to live with his older brother in New Mexico. Inspired by true events, The Only Road is an individual story of a boy who feels that leaving his home and risking everything is his only chance for a better life.   
 My Review:  The events that inspired this book, as suggested in the blurb, aren't necessarily the travels of one specific child, but of

Photo Friday: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

It's been a long time since I did a photo special, but I have some good shots to share from a late-March visit to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, in southern California. The area got some hype this year about a super-bloom, and while it was maybe a bit exaggerated, we certainly found good flowers, and far more than we've seen in recent years. The drive down from San Francisco is a long one, but it was nice to see the hills covered in green (and a fair number of California poppies). We began our trip with something new (for us): a 60-mile bike ride that took us up into the hills to the west, to have lunch in the town of Julian before a glorious descent back to the park (and the heat). Pre-sunrise breakfast before starting to ride. We needed an early start to beat the heat and the traffic. Started right off with the looooong climb out of the valley. This was just the beginning. After the first  dozen miles, we got a respite in Ranchita. Where they seem to revere Bigfoot (more on


Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group (click on the badge above for the list) and connect with your fellow writers - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting! This month's question:  What is the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for your story? Great question, so I think I'll talk about that! Actually, I've long had a joke about some of the things we writers of murder mysteries research, a

Middle Grade Review: Wolf Hollow, by Lauren Wolk

 Title: Wolf Hollow Author: Lauren Wolk Publisher: Dutton Children's Books, 2016. 291 pages Source: Library Publisher's Blurb: Growing up in the shadows cast by two world wars, Annabelle has lived a mostly quiet, steady life in her small Pennsylvania town. Until the day new student Betty Glengarry walks into her class. Betty quickly reveals herself to be cruel and manipulative, and while her bullying seems isolated at first, things quickly escalate, and reclusive World War I veteran Toby becomes a target of her attacks. While others have always seen Toby’s strangeness, Annabelle knows only kindness. She will soon need to find the courage to stand as a lone voice of justice as tensions mount. Brilliantly crafted, Wolf Hollow is a haunting tale of America at a crossroads and a time when one girl’s resilience, strength, and compassion help to illuminate the darkest corners of our history. My Review:  This is definitely a growing-up book.  By that I mean, it's a book